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Men walking on water

Men Walking on Water
by Emily Schultz
The man who connected them wasn't a man anymore, but a body, hidden deep beneath the green ice of the Detroit River. The group of rumrunners huddled on the shore, consulting on what had just happened. All knew the doors of the old Ford had been removed for ease of exit in exactly this circumstance, yet apparently Alfred Moss still sat inside. The Doctor claimed to have seen the car go under and no one had seen the driver since. Moss was dead: to begin with. "There is no doubt whatever about that," the Doctor said. Perhaps Moss had heard the ice cracking, had managed to get one leg out the door, had been caught mid-jump as the vehicle plunged under, its grille like a falling arrow headed for the mud. If so, the fabric of his trousers now flapped grayly, silently. A lone black shoe balanced on the baseboard, poised to leap. This the men imagined. They also knew that Moss's hands might still grip the wheel-- or perhaps the parking brake or the roof's frame, whatever he had grabbed--ridges of knuckles white with fear, mouth ajar and the water swirling strands of dark hair around deaf ears. Willie Lynch could picture this more vividly than the others. As the kid in the group, he often rode with Alfred Moss. He knew that the Murray's Superior Pomade in Moss's hair would already be undone, though inside Moss's coat pocket the couple on the orange tin would still smile. His fedora would already have fallen away into the murk. Or perhaps Moss had managed to get free and swim, had made it up to the crusted ceiling only to bump against the ice, unable to break through or find air before sinking back down, arms and legs limp as strands of seaweed. Willie watched as the other men scuttled back and forth, searching, still hoping they were wrong. After a while, he climbed down from the bank and started to venture out on the frozen river but was called back. He could feel his face cracking beneath his cap, his eyes glassy. This was the worst thing he'd ever seen; it was intolerable to be forbidden from stretching out his body on top of the frail ice and freezing to death himself in search of the lost man. It had been Alfred Moss, not his own father, who'd finished teaching him to drive. Two brown moles beside Willie's eye consulted as he squinted. He spat. A small white gob landed on the white ice: proof he wasn't about to cry. To the northeast was the anchorage site for the bridge. The men had read or heard that it would be nearly fifty feet wide and rise above their river by 135 feet, but in the dark it was just an island of dirt heaped up on either side of the waterway, a place where the sandhogs worked in hard, short shifts, going down into the concrete tubing below the surface of the water to excavate. The construction site was a rubble of wood and sacks of cement. In the distance, in the moonlight, the round concrete caisson seemed to mock Willie and the men with its shape: a giant life preserver. The gang turned on the headlamps of their cars, positioned the beams so they could see across the ice. Although the light died at a hundred yards, they agreed the skid Alfred Moss had been pulling, heavy with Scotch, must be gone too. They snapped off their lights. Willie Lynch put his hands in his pockets and scrunched his shoulders. Why do they fucking care about the poteen ? "Where is the second car?" the large man in the homburg bellowed. This was Vern Bunterbart, the heavy, the one they answered to. "I am the second car," the Doctor said grimly. He was supposed to be out on the river too, coming back from Canada, following behind the Ford, bringing half the shipment. Sometimes it was Willie and sometimes the Doctor, whose real name was Ernest Krim. The men glanced up the bank where his old truck sat parked. They were silent for a moment. "You saw it or you heard it?" someone finally asked. "Both," Krim replied. He was a thin man with a face like a hammer, and eerily calm about the whole matter, considering he'd known Moss the best of all of them. Willie stared at the Doctor's frosty green eyes. "What did you see?" Willie asked. "Just a spot of dark, then splintering, a sound like a tree struck down the middle. Then the dark dipped. The spot just disappeared." "You are sure?" Bunterbart demanded. "How can you be?" He turned around, holding his homburg with one hand and the collar of his fine coat with the other. "A long way out." At his words, the group turned again and stared. Along the opposite shore, a hem of lights blurred between Willie's eyelashes. "I'm sure," Krim replied quietly. The men cursed and clutched their coats closer. They pulled their hats lower. There was a strong wind coming across the vast ice, but Willie didn't flip up his collar. "How many cases?" Bunterbart asked one of the others. His voice was like a razor flicking over a strop. The man chose his words carefully, so carefully he said nothing. "That many, ya?" Bunterbart huffed, and turned his large body away. Willie shot a glance at Krim. He didn't care for the Doctor, but didn't know why. He liked him better than some, but that went without saying since no one liked Bunterbart. It was something about Krim's manner. He stood differently from the other men, his eyes often looking up. Willie's father had called him Krim the Prim. He was a citizen . But then Willie remembered what Alfred Moss always said: the Doctor was a true pal, a blood brother, the one phone call you get . The Kid turned and again searched the frozen river with his eyes. Excerpted from Men Walking on Water by Emily Schultz All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.
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Men walking on water